|Flag of Scotland|
|National motto: Nemo me impune lacessit |
(No-one provokes me with impunity)'
|Language:||English, Scots Gaelic|
|Lord Lieutenant||Andrew, Duke of Edinburgh|
|First Minister||Alex Salmond|
Scotland (Gaelic:Alba) is an autonomous country occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, to the north of England. Scotland is a constituent part of the United Kingdom. It is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. It was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which saw Scotland become one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Scotland's largest city is Glasgow, what was once one of the world's leading industrial metropolises, and now lies at the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation which dominates the Scottish Lowlands. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent state until May 1, 1707, when the Acts of Union, despite widespread protest across Scotland resulted in a union with the Kingdom of England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland; as with the other constituent countries of the UK, Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and in private law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union.
Scotland is not a sovereign state, but instead is one of five constitutent countries within the United Kingdom. In addition to maintaining its own legal system and culture, as well as its own church, Scotland is entirely self-governing except in matters relating to foreign affairs, defence and other issues deemed to be of "national" significance. The Devolution Act of 1937 created Scottish Home Rule, modelled on that enacted in Ireland twenty years earlier. The Act provides for the existence of a Lord Lieutenant of Scotland to act as the representative of the Sovereign, and for a separate legislature, the Scottish Parliament, as well as a separate executive government. There are 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), elected by the additional member system. The Scottish Government is led by a First Minister who appoints ministers with devolved portfolios.
The current First Minister of Scotland is the Hon. Alex Salmond MSP, who represents the Scottish National Party, an organisation which advocates long-term independence for Scotland (though Salmond has agreed to review this policy).